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Every Child a Graduate

Every Child a Graduate

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This report outlines the Alliance for Excellent Education’s Framework for Action to Improve Secondary Schools, which reflects the consensus among educators, researchers, policymakers, and other authorities on the specific problems of secondary schools, as well as on the research- and best-practice-supported solutions to those problems. Taken together, the seven policy areas contained within the framework offer a comprehensive and systemic approach to secondary school reform.


This report outlines the Alliance for Excellent Education’s Framework for Action to Improve Secondary Schools, which reflects the consensus among educators, researchers, policymakers, and other authorities on the specific problems of secondary schools, as well as on the research- and best-practice-supported solutions to those problems. Taken together, the seven policy areas contained within the framework offer a comprehensive and systemic approach to secondary school reform.


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Published by: Alliance for Excellent Education on Oct 28, 2009
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03/22/2012

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Many other nations are already

adapting to the changes in the world

economy, improving their education

systems, and creating signifcant

competition for American workers.

A recent avalanche of reports46

from

business and education groups

documenting the major technological,

economic, and demographic changes

across the globe have created an awareness

of the need to increase “American

competitiveness.” The indicators used

to describe this challenge “range from

measurable declines in American

innovation, such as patents and scientifc

articles, to soaring numbers of students

in Asia majoring in these felds, to U.S.

students’ lagging interest and measured

performance in math and science.”47

If

the United States is to improve its capacity

to compete in the global economy, it must

have an education system that has the

ability to meet the fast-growing demand

for high-level skills.

For years, the United States was known

as the nation with the world’s premier

education system. Unfortunately, results

from recent international analyses

comparing American students to their

peers abroad demonstrate that today’s

students (and the American education

system) are falling behind. The

Programme for International Student

Assessment (PISA), developed and

administered every three years by the

Organisation for Economic Co-operation

and Development (OECD),b

is one

of the few available tools for regularly

and directly comparing the quality of

educational outcomes across countries.

Not only does the PISA measure base

knowledge, it also gauges the capacity

of ffteen-year-old students across the

world to apply what they’ve learned in the

classroom in order to analyze, reason,

and communicate effectively. The new

world market demands this ability to apply

learned content and skills to real-world

situations, making PISA an invaluable

measure of students’ preparation for the

twenty-frst-century economy. But on the

b

OECD is a highly respected membership organization
fnanced by thirty industrialized democracies. The 2006 PISA
assessment included participation by all thirty of the OECD
member nations and an additional twenty-seven partner
nations; in total, these ffty-seven nations make up almost
90 percent of the world economy.

from no child left behind to every child a graduate

15

The country’s once-

superior school system

has lost its competitive

edge—not because its

education outcomes are

getting worse, but because

they are stagnating as

others progress.

most recent PISA assessments,c

which

compared American ffteen-year-olds to

those in other developed nations, U.S.

students ranked twenty-ffth of thirty in

mathematics literacy, twenty-frst of thirty

in scientifc literacy, ffteenth of twenty-

nine in reading literacy, and twenty-fourth

of twenty-nine in problem solving.48

OECD

analysts found that, compared to its peers,

the U.S. education system has higher-

than-average performance gaps between

socioeconomic groups, signifcant gaps in

performance between schools, and high

proportions of low-performing students.49

The U.S. is losing ground on other

indicators as well. Until the early 1960s,

the United States had the highest high

school completion rates among OECD

member nations, but by 2005 had

slipped to eighteenth out of twenty-three

member nations with available data.

Similarly, in college graduation rates the

United States has slipped from second to

ffteenth among OECD member nations

with available data.50

The country’s

once-superior school system has lost

its competitive edge—not because its

education outcomes are getting worse,

but because they are stagnating as others

progress. Even a recent report from

the World Economic Forum (WEF)

ranking the United States frst out of 131

nations in its Global Competitiveness

Index—due to the “effciency of its

markets, the sophistication of the business

community, the impressive capacity for

technological innovation,”51

among other

factors—observed troubling signs of

weakness. For instance, the WEF ranks

the United States thirty-fourth in health

c

Mathematics literacy and scientifc literacy rankings are
from the 2006 PISA assessment. A printing error invalidated
the U.S. reading section of the 2006 assessment, so the
reading literacy ranking is from the 2003 assessment.
Problem solving was last included in the 2003 assessment.

and primary education and notes that

“an inadequately educated workforce”

is the ffth most problematic factor for

doing business in the United States, just

a tenth of a point behind infation (tax

rates, tax regulations, and an ineffcient

government bureaucracy are numbers

one through three).52

Additionally, as

prominent economists Eric Hanushek,

Dean Jamison, Eliot Jamison, and Ludger

Woessmann have recently described,

there is a clear link between higher

levels of cognitive skill—defned as “the

performance of students on tests in math

and science”—and economic growth; the

researchers found that a highly skilled

workforce can raise economic growth by

about two thirds of a percentage point

every year. Their fndings suggest that if

the United States were able to increase

its average PISA performance to score

at levels similar to the highest-scoring

nations, the United States gross domestic

product would also increase signifcantly.53

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